By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter
and Charmaine A. Tadalan
ON PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte’s second year in office, the Filipino people now see more infrastructure and economic developments, laws signed, and social services, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” T. Go said.
“We have seen numerous infra[structure] and economic development projects, laws signed and implemented and social welfare, health and education programs put into place in the last two years,” Mr. Go said in a statement over the weekend.
He added: “This is a testament of what President Duterte clearly wants for the country and for the Filipinos.”
Mr. Go also said the administration has “no ambitions of clinging to power, neither will [it] push for laws that would result (in) such.”
He said his principal “will always want a clean and graft-free government, and he has proven this many times by firing officials he appointed.”
In December last year, Mr. Duterte signed into law the first package of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN). The government expects to generate around P130 billion in revenues from its implementation this year to fund Mr. Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program as well as his government’s social services.
In May this year, Mr. Duterte signed into law the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018, which includes anti-red tape provisions and streamlines procedures and shortens processing time for government transactions.
In June, the President also signed into law the Balik Scientist Act, which offers incentives for eligible technology workers seeking to work in the Philippines, and the Philippine Mental Health Law that mandates the government to provide basic mental health services to Filipinos.
Also last month, Mr. Duterte witnessed the signing of the memorandum of agreement (MoA) between the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) and state and local universities and colleges to launch the implementation of Republic Act 10931, which provides for free tuition at these schools.
For her part, Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo said more “laylayan” communities (communities in the outskirts) were reached during her second year in office.
Ito iyong pinangako ko noong ako ay kumakandidato, noong aking inauguration-na iyong core talaga na magiging programa ng Office of the Vice-President (OVP) iyong pag-asikaso ng mga nasa laylayan ng lipunan. And over the course of two years, iyon iyong ginawa natin (This is what I promised during my candidacy, in my inauguration, that the core project of the Office of the Vice-President is to assist the marginalized. And over the course of two years, that has been our job),” she said in a statement Sunday.
The OVP reported as of June 30 that its Angat Buhay initiative has reached out to more than 155,000 families in 176 poor communities in the country. A total of P252 million worth of projects and programs were conducted in these communities. The Angat Buhay Program, launched in October 2016, establishes a link between the communities and local partners to help assist the poor in six key areas: food security and nutrition, universal health care, education, women empowerment, rural development, and housing and resettlement.
Tingin ko iyong pinakamahalaga dito hindi lang iyong pagtulong, pero pinapakita natin iyong kahalagahan ng collaboration (I think what’s important here is not only helping, but also proving the value of collaboration),” Ms. Robredo said. In addition, the OVP, with pledges worth P14.3 million, said it was able to build 100 transitory shelters for residents displaced by the Marawi siege. This July, the office said it will turn over 60 completed houses to beneficiaries.
Sought for comment regarding these efforts in the context of next year’s election campaign season, former dean of the Ateneo School of Government Antonio G.M. La Viña said in a phone interview: “The chances of the opposition are as good as the candidates.”
“It’s all about having inherently strong candidates for (Ms.) Robredo because the endorsement value is not very big, unlike the President,” Mr. La Viña also said. He added that Ms. Robredo can be one of the strong candidates in the 2022 election. “I think (Ms.) Robredo comes as a strong candidate, if she decides to run, simply because (she’s the) current Vice-President, may (there is) name recall.”